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9/11/01 The Today Show News/Business. (2010) Highlights of the week's 9/11.

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Pentagon 38, Us 26, U.s. 18, Katie 17, New York 14, Los Angeles 10, Mik 10, Boston 8, Washington 8, Manhattan 7, Fbi 6, Bob 5, United States 5, Elliott 4, Jennifer 4, Bob Kerr 3, Andrea Mitchell 3, Dan 3, Jim 3, Lafayette 3,
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  MSNBC    MSNBC News Live    9/11/01 The Today Show  News/Business.  
    (2010) Highlights of the week's 9/11.  

    September 11, 2010
    9:00 - 10:00am EDT  

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information as to what actually caused this. and, of course, on everybody's mind, who might have been hurt as a result of this terrible, terrible incident. we're going to be talking to more eyewitnesses coming up, in just a few minutes. >> we are back at 9:00 eastern time on this tuesday morning, and we're back with drama tic pictures of an accident that has happened just a short time ago. you're looking at the world trade center in lower manhattan where just a few minutes ago we're told that a plane, some reports are that it was a small commuter plane, crashed into the upper floors of one of the twin towers. you can see fire and flames or smoke billowing from that tower. there is a gaping hole on the north side of the 'sbuilding. that's the side you're seeing to the left-hand side of your screen right now. and other damage to the west side of that building, which is
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to the right side of your screen. this, of course, happened just before the morning commute, before people were heading into their offices and while i'm sure some people were already at work, immediately there's speculation or cause for concern. this is the world trade center that was the center of a terrorist bombing some years o. ago. so the questions have to be asked was this purely an accident or could this have been an intentional act. either way, extensive damage has been done to this building. >> it also looks like there is smoke coming out of the east side of the building on that shot we saw. looks like white smoke billowing out aft east side of the building. >> obviously horrified commuters were absolutely devastated when they heard this explosio n. we talked with somebody a moment ago about that, jennifer oversteen. and, also, another eyewitness, elliott walker, who is actually a producer here owon "the today show." can you hear me? >> yes. >> tell me where you are and what you saw. >> well, i live in this area.
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i am returning to my apartment. but i was walking down the sidewalk delivering my young daughter to school, and we hear a very loud sound, the kind of sound you hear when a plane is, you know, going fast past you. followed by an enormous crash. and an immediate explosion. i don't think we could feel shock waves but we sort of felt like we did. and we were in a position where we could see the trade center almost immediately between the other buildings. and an enormous fireball that must have been 300 feet across was visible immediately. a secondary explosion, i think, and then plumes of smoke. there must have been a three-block cloud of white smoke. now, from where i was on the street a moment ago, you can, in fact, see smoke leaving the building on three sides. it seems to be coming out on at least four or five floors. the air is filled with hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper that are sort of floating like . confetti. the area is swarmed with es emergency vehicles and sirens. obviously we're very sensitive to this kind of thing in this
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neighborhood. >> elliott, of course because of the incident that occurred in the early 1990s have you seen any evidence, elliott, of people being taken out of the building? you say that emergency vehicles are there, understandably so, but, of course, a major concern is human loss. >> oh, my goodness! >> do you know if there were many people in the building? >> oh, another one just hit! something else hit. there's been another collision. can you see it? >> oh, my. >> something else. it looked like a 747. >> we just saw a plane circling the building, a second ago on the shot right before thnkat. >> i think there may have been another impact. can you tell? i just heard another very loud bang and a very large plane that might have been a dc-9 or 747 flew past my window. i think it may have hit the trade center again. >> to be honest, elliott, i didn't get the impression it was that big a plane. >> it looked big from here. >> i did see a plane go by a second ago. it has now impacted the
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building. i'm trying to see if it's a different tower. >> i think it is. >> it's the other tower. >> i think it may have been. i think the first was world trade center one. it looks like on the television it may have been the second. >> this is a piece of tape, and we may actually see another plane enter the picture here in a second. >> i wonder if there are air traffic control problems. >> let's gback to jennifer who we were talking to a second ago. jennifer, did you see this happen? >> hello? >> did you see this happen, jennifer? >> matt, i never have seen -- it looks like a movie. i saw a large plane, like a jet, go immediately headed directly into the world trade center. it just flew into it, into the other tower coming from south to north. i watched the plane fly into the world trade center. it was a jet. it was a very large plane. it was going fast. it went past what's being built in battery park, almost hit it and then went in. >> this is so shocking,
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of course, to everybody watching. >> i've never seen anything like it. it literally flew itself into world trade center. >> obviously now we move from what appears -- there it is right there. >> again, i'm oking from -- from south to north. it appeared to be the one on the right. >> that appeared to be at least a 727. we saw it a second ago. here comes the videotape that we showed you. you will see what appears to be a large plane. it could be a 727, right there, maybe even bigger. flying right into the side of the world trade center. >> it was at least a 727. it was a jet. i couldn't believe my eyes watching it right above me. >> now you have to move from talk about a possible accident to talk about something deliberate that has happened here. we're going to immediately check with air traffic control in the area to find out if they had contact with either of these planes before the accident. but what we've just seen is about the most shocking videotape i've ever seen. >> what are the odds of two separate planes hitting both
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towers? >> elliott, are you still there? >> hello? >> elliott? >> i'm still here, katie. >> what can you see right now from your perspective? >> i can't see anything in that direction personally. >> it is completely impossible to understand why this is happening and to figure out what the -- what in the world is going on. >> i think we have to be grateful we were hit before 9:00 am but now it's after 9:00 am and i wonder how many people were in those offices. >> hopefully, they were evacuated following that first incident. there was only a short period of time from when we first learned about this, was probably about 8:50 eastern time. the second incident occurred about 9:05. and so obviously that would be a short amount of time to get people out of the building. ollie everheart is another witness who is on the ground. can you hear me? >> yes. >> please tell me what you're seeing. >> i live in lower manhattan. i face the north tower where the first plane crashed into the
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building. and right now, there's a lot of chaos on the ground, a lot of emergency vehicles. everyone from the world financial center has exited and is walking north up to battery park north. there's just mass and mass of people walking north uptown of manhattan. i happened to look on the first tower and i actually saw people waving where the first pne crashed through, and then it was unbelievable seeing the second jet come crashing into the second tower. what is going on? >> and, unfortunately, here in new york, many of our station cans not see this, local stations because the antennas are on the world trade center. their backup tower on the empire state building but communication, television communication in new york city is probably pretty much knocked off the air. >> i just want to say something. we're looking at a picture where it appears, because of the
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angle, i think, that the towers are leaning. i don't think that is actually the case because after the first impact, it looked as if it was -- we're getting a witness saying they are leaning, actually, right now, which would give you the idea of the type of impact we're talking about. >> and that perhaps they're buckling under the force of the collision or the hole that's resulted from these two planes. >> we're going to go to george shea right now whose also witnessed one or both of these collisions. george, can you hear us? >> i can hear you. >> what did you see? >> i was in a car driving up just gotten out of the battery tunnel driving north on west street when enormous explosion happened. and i think it was larger than a construction explosion. i looked out the window and what appeared to be an enormous tire smashed into the ground and i believe it hit the car to the right of me. it was just so scary. and there was also a ton of debris fall.
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i jumped out of the car and i ran south away from the building because i thought there would be further explosions. >> and have you seen anyone injured on the ground? >> a man next to me was hit by a piece of debris on his arm, and they said that someone had been badly hurt in a car ahead of me. i'm not certain if it was the car next to me. i can't verify that. all i can say is a lot of debris was falling. it was very confusing because everybody, i think, immediately assumed that a bomb had exploded and that sort of -- you know, had people thinking that furthe. bombs may explode. there was sort of a rush away. >> did you see, george, the second plane, that jet fly into the other twin tower? >> i heard two explosions, however. there was a first explosion that was louder, and then a second explosion. and but i did not -- i could not see that. i looked up. when i looked up, i saw debris falling and the tire as i said, a very large tire. >> of course this is, as we've
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said, completely shocking video. and a shocking turn of events. we've been talking here that the first incident, one might surmise that it was some kind of accident. and then to have a second, what appeared to be 727 jet, of course, the question of terrorist activity has to i your fas and the question of whether this was an intentiona terrorist act of some kind. >> keep in mind we're in an area where there are three major airports, you have newark airport, kennedy airport, and la guardia airport, all within several miles of the world trade center. you know, it's very unusual for a plane to get into this area without being completely tracked or identified by air traffic control. so you would have to imagine that, a, if this plane were headed right for the world trade center there must have been someone trying to talk or commicate with that pilot, and for it to fly right into the side of the building -- >> the smaller plane, you can
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understand almost. but a jumbo jet, a large jet, completely -- >> let's rerack that video if we could in the control room where we actually saw the jet flying into the building. unbelievable. >> elliott walker said it was a big plane. i was looking in the distance and saw a small plane which might have been a helicopter, actually. to see this plane come into the picture -- >> there it is. >>- that is a big plane. and i meanit's hard to imagine -- it's a 737, we're now being told, flying directly into the midsection of the -- what would be the eastern tower of the world trade center. >> i'm wondering if general oversteen is still on the phone. do we still have jennifer on the phone? she's actually not on the phone. she was near a police officer. at least we could have, perhaps, gotten more information from that officer. needless to say, it's pandemonium i am sure, down ere, a nd we gathered that from the eyewitnesses with whom we spoke and how terrifying this was for them to se
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you can only imagine as you get closer to the twin towers, a new york landmark, how -- what the scene must be like there >> you talked about the buildings looking like they've buckled. they'rdesigned to have a two-degree sway in either direction because of the height of the building, being able to deal with the wind and stress, but something like that, probably more than it was designed. we want to go out to jane derenowski who is a television producer here in new york. jane, can you hear me? >> yes, i can hear you. i'm down here near the world trade center. i was walking down sixth avenue thisorning at 8:42 a.m. a group of us saw a ane veer through the then we saw a huge cloud of smoke, and then fire came out of one of the towers here. it's near the upper floor, as you can probably see with your chopper shots,nd then abt ten minutes ago, a second explosion in the second tower. lower down. that was not affected by the plane.
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so i'm not quite sure what happened there. right now there's a huge gaping hole in one of the towers and the other building is on fire. the scene down here is incredible. people are out of their office buildings, watching, crying, taking picres. i've never seen anything like it down here. >> je, you said you saw the first plane. did you get a glimpse of what kind of plane that was? we're told it was a small commuter plane. >> well, it looked -- it wasn't a cesna or anything like that.ad planand we could hear it very low. and walking down the stree thinking what's happening. drastically on its ide, through the buildings and then went into the upper floors of the world trade center tower. >> we want to just meion when the impact hit the first tower, you would hope that people who were in the second tower were beginning to evacuate, especially if air traffic control had some indication this was deliberate, you'd hope that they were starti to get people
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out of the other tower before the second pla hit that tower. >> if you tried to go up, we've been upstairs in the world -- in the towers, in the restaurant there, to try to get down -- >> the elevators would have been jammed. no question. if there was an indication this was deliberate in the first case, you would hope that they would immediatonely begin evacuation in the second tower. >> we've got another eyewitness, dan dietrich is on the phone. tell us what you've seen or what you saw. >> what i saw was one plane coming in low from the north, down over seventh avenue. it crashed into the top or the middle of one of the towers. ten minutes later, i saw another plane crash into the other side of the tower at a lower level. it looked to be a small, you know, commercial plane, the first plane that i saw. it crashed into the toper of th tower and there was a huge
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fireball and there was a gaping hole in the side of the tower. as we were waiting outside and looking at it, another plane came in low, i believe from the other side and hit the -- of the middle of the other towe i saw both anes, two separate anes crash into each tower. >> and, dan, again, the size of the planes? tell me about that. >> i would say that the plane was a mid-size, looked to be a commercial airline. i don't know. i thought perhaps, you know, a commercial airline, a mid size, not a jumbo jet. >> this, of course, is unconfirmed, but we are tting information from an employee of united airlines. again, we want to emphasize, this is unconfirmed but there is speculation that an american airlines plane was hijacked and crashed purposely, on purpose
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into the world trade center and that the second plane was another plane, perhaps hijacked, and then flown into the second tower. dan, tell me about people on the ground. are you at a vantage point where you can see what's hpening on the ground? >> i'm farther up in the west village. i'm not on the ground near the ba of the towers. >> where were you when it happened? >> i was walking down sevnth avenue at about -- charles street, which is about 15 or 20 blocks north of the towers. >> obviously, this was a shocking thing for you to witness on tuesday morning. a wire just came out and said in 1945 an army air corps b-25, twin engine bomber, crashed into the 79th floor of theng empire state building. that occurred in dense fog. this was a crystal clear day in manhattan. so, it is completely unclear how there would be any kind of
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problems with visibility. dan, thank you so much for talking with us. hopefully, you can stay on the phone and weheck back in with you at another point in time. we appreciate it. >> you're welcome. >> we also want to report db remind people that world trade center bombing that took place february 26th in 1993, the product of a terrorist attack, the result of a terrorist attack that killed six people and injured morehan 1,000. of course, that happened on a friday afternoon. matt, you and al were working the. day. >> yeah, we were. >> i was at home in virginia, watching it in dibelief. now it feels a bit like de ja vu. >> keep in mind that injured 1,00and the explosion happened in the garage in the basement. this was a direct hit on the dsection or upper section of the tower. potential for injuries and death much higher, plus the people on the planes. >> yes, if ey were hijacked
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and en route to another rr destination. b kerr joins us now. wherare you and what can you tell us? >> katie, goe morningt. i'm on the north lawnus at the white hoe. first thing weigooked for here in light of what's happened is whether there is any unusual activity outhere, whether there's an unusual police or seet service presence, people on the roof, that sort of thing. we don't see that as we speak. i did try to callhe the nationa security office here. as you know, the president is out of town. he is in florida. we're told he has been informed of this. i can tell you that the white house national security staff that remains here is in a senior-level meeting and we are hoping to hear from them as sn as postsible. but, katie, the reaction here to the pictures you are seeing and to the initial pictures when they came up, even in what's called the lower press office here at the white house, was one of shock. i mean, people are just standing around television monitors, looking at this. when i say people, i don't just
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mean the reporters. i mean the people who are actually in the office who work here at the white house. >> so, very little information is coming out of the white house at this juncture. needless to say, if the speculation is true about some kind of terrorist event, this will be a major, major crisis for the bush administration. jim miklaszewski is at the pentagon now. mick, are you hearing any more information from there? >> reporter: according to u.s. intelligence officials, katie, it appeared, at least to their knowledge, to be no specific threat involving hijacking airliners or any attacks on buildings in the new york area. u.s. intelligence officials report this morning that there are -- you know, constantly they are hearing about threats, possible terrorist threats against american targets worldwide. but as far as they know this morning, they had no early indications that anything of this nature could have occurred.
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pentagon officials are already calling this a terrorist attack. they say that they have not yet ordered the scrambling of any military naujet if national guard were to be scrambled in that area, that would be at the order of the governor. now, of course, the president does have the authority to scramble american military forces in defense. but there's a problem here. what now do you defend against exactly? if you put warplanes in the air, there's always a danger that they could misidentify a pilot's intention. although i believe, according to officials here theyre now off limits and restricted but so far the u.s. military and pentagon
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officials are scrambling to get as much information as they possibly can to determine what course of action, if any, the u.s. military would take. >> but, mick, they are describing this as a terrorist attack right now? >> there are some officials here in the pentagon who are calling thisio an obvious terrorist attack, based on very preliminary information. the information that intelligence officials are getting in terms of a possible hijacked pla. and, of course, the very horrifying video. >> right. >> of the plane veering to the tower itself is a clear indication to everyone here that this is not an accident. >> jim miklaszewski, thanks. of course, the coordination that took place to have two planes hit the towers within 18 minutes of one another. let's go back to the white house. bob kerr is standing there. what can you tell us? >> reporter: matt, it was interesting to listen to jim miklaszewski from the pentagon. of course, the president has authority to scramble military
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forces. and this is a case, obviously, in which retaliation, if indeed it proves to be a terrorist incident, will be contemplated. but the usual course of events is it's an investigation, you know, unless someone steps forward, claims responsibility. the white house and other arms of the u.s. government will say, we have to determine who is responsible for this attack, try to pinpoint it and then thes. usuallsays someone is going to be made to pay. but that is a big if. if we can determine exactly the origin of this terrorist attack. and so there are some implications to that. >> let's go back to jim miklaszewski. bob, thank you. back at the pentagon, you have more information? >> bob's exactly right, katie. what their primary concern right now is protecting the american public in the new york area right now against any possible, further attacks by the air. they have no indications there will be, but there is some concern that since this appeared to be such a highly coordinated
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attack that there may be other terrorist attacks that could be planned either in new york or elsewhere. this is absolutely the worst case scenario for the counterterrorist planners, because apparently, according to intelligence officials, there were no firm indicions prior to this that anything like this could have happened. in terms of scrambling the u.s. military, it would be for protection for the time being and not necessarily even thinking right now about any kind of retaliation. >> david gregory is now on the phone froml largo key. >> where he is following the president. >> the president is having an education event that is being canceled. he was made aware en route from his hotel to this school here in sarasota, where he was going to
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talk about education. he will make a statement. then we're told by white house officials that he will quickly depart for washington. >> we shouention, david, that new york city airport or new york area airports have all been closed. the lincoln tunnel has been closed here in new york. while we're getting ready to listen to the president, let's go back to jim miklaszewski at the pentagon. jim, you talk about counterterrorist measures that are in place. can you shed any light for us on what kind of things are in place in the event of an attack of this nature? >> reporter: well, katie, it's very difficult to -- for the u.s. military to respond to this kind of thing right now. it's unclear exactly who is behind it. or if there are any potential attacks or incidents like this. this has not officially been declared a terrorist attack but all the experts looking at these pictures say there's no doubt about it, this was a coordinated
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terrorist attack. but who and why is very much unclear right now. and the problem with trying to then put planes in the air to try to prevent any furtheres attacks is -- these are, after all, open air spaces for the most part. and it's difficult for the u.s. military to simply scramble jets, put them in the air. then, according to officials here, then do what? this area, of course, according to officials here, is obviously going to be declared off t limi in terms of any air traffic. right now, officials here at the pentagon are simply scrambling to find out first what happened. >> right. >> reporter: and what potential reaction the u.s. military could provide in terms of protection, possible further protection from
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any attacks. >> if these planes were hijacked, they were carrying passengers, there's not much that military officials could have done. you can't shoot down a plane like that, plus the injuries you could cause on the ground in a place like manhattan. >> that's exactly right. >> the president has the authority to scramble the military. the governor has the air national guard at his disposal. he can do that. officials are pretty much wondering what exactly to do in terms of protection and how. again, to the counterterrorism officials, this is absolutely the worst case scenario. because right now there seems to be not much, not much they can rms of the aftermath. >> we're scrambling for information here. i want to read this reuters wire. two planes crashed into the towers of the world trade center
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causing huge explosions and s killing at least six people. cnpc tv said there were at least 1,000 injured. both towers of the lower manhattan landmark where thousands of people work were the scenes of a bombing in 1993. the fbi told the associated press that it was, quote, foul play and not an accident. a person who answered the phone that was reported by abc, a person who answered the phone on the trading floor at inner dealer broker canter-fitzgerald, located near the top of the world trade center said we're blanking dying when asked what was happening and hung up. there was screaming and yelling in the background and a follow-up call was not answered. nick fulton, an eyewitness, said before the first explosion he saw a plane fly over his apartment in the soho district of lower manhattan. jamie gangel is on the phone with more information. jamie, what can you tell us? >> reporter: katie, i've just with the access to latest ls
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intelligence, and they said, quote, that this was clearly terrorist related, no question about it. they said that they couldn't give any further details now, d not because they didn't want to share it but because they just don't know yet. they're at the earliest stages. >> do they know, jamie, for example, if a plane was, in fact, hijacked? >> reporter: they would not answer that, and i think that it's -- i think that, they are just getting the earliest details. and they're afraid of putting out misinformation. but they said, you know, that it was clearly terrorist related. >> jamie, thanks. we're looking, if you just joined us, at both world trade towers in new york city where two airplanes have crashed into the world trade center, one before 9:00 eastern time and one shortly after 9:00. the midsection point, they're both 110 floors high, 1,300 feet
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above the ground. the tower on the right was hit more, probably two-thirds to three-quarters of the way up the tower. you can see fires burning in both towers. we actually saw a videotape on -- we watche the second tape -- the second plane hit the building. you'll watch it enter from the right portion of the screen and then make contact with the left-hand tower in what is shocking video. and here it comes, right there. you can see the impact on one side of the building and the residual damage coming out of another side of the building and one can can only imagine that that one occurred shortly after 9:00 in the morning, how many people were in the building at the time of the impact? and it's a large plane. we're told it was either a 737. some reports that the first plane was a 757. >> some kind of airbus. that's what the united worker told us, that apparently it was an american airlines plane that had been --
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>> hijacked. >> -- hijacked from boston to los angeles, but we're just getting initial reports of that. again, we must tell you that we're trying to get as much information, but it is trickling in at a very slow pace. so, all of this is unconfirmed. and, of course, speculation of a terrorist attack is unconfirmed although that is what some pentagon officials are saying. let's go to president bush right now. >> unfortunately, we'll be going back to washington after my remarks. secretary rod pace and the lieutenant governor will take the podium and discuss education. i do want to thank the folks ar here at the booker elementary school for their hospitality. today we've had an national tragedy. two airplanehave crashed into the world trade center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country. i have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of new york, to the director of the
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fbi, and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families, and to conduct a full-scale investigation, to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act. terrorism against our nation will not stand. and now if you join me in a moment of silence. may god bless the victims, their families and america. thank you very much. >> that, of course, was president sh, who is in florida, in longboat key, spe speaking at an elementary school. he planned to be talking about
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literacy. obviously, he had to change. he mentioned this is an apparent terrorist attack. is he traveling back to washington. he said he had spoken to the governor of new york as well as the vice president, that all the resources will be brought to bear by the federal government to determine who did this and who was responsible for this terrible, terrible event. and then, of course, it was followed by a moment of silence for the victims. >> we're going to go to andrea mitchell now who has more information on this tragedy. andrea? >> reporter: matt and katie, i've spoken to a top u.s. official who says early reports to our intelligence community and to other officials within the administration are that this was a hijacked american airlines plane en route from boston to los angeles. one of the two planes, they say, was apparently a hijacked american airlines plane. they cautioned that early reports still need further confirmation, but this is at least what the u.s. government is being told by american airlines officials. they are assuming and informed the president that this is a terrorist attack.
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>> and, andrea, no information as to in what term of the flight this plane was taken over, how much warning that air traffic controll controllers may have had that someone hostile was at the controls of this plane? >> reporter: exactly right. they had no other information, just that one was from boston en route to los angeles presumablye after it had already been in the air and en route because i was told en route to los angeles. so probably hijacked after it had taken off. as you know, those are very short flights. those are usually 737s or 757s on that route, but this clearly, according to the u.s. government, is a terror attack as you heard the president say. now, one of the things, matt and katie, we should understand, there was no specific threat that the u.s. government was aware of, no specific terror alert other than the worldwhy caution that had been reissued in recent days becausef the
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strife in the middle east, because of concerns over terrorists. of course, the best known is osama bin laden but no alert coming from his organization, ey and as far as they know, as of this morning, as of this minute, he is in afghanistan. >> we should mention, andrea, it appears that this was a well-coordinated bombing or terrorist act, because of the fact that two planes were used, both substantial in size, and the facthat they both hit the world trade center within 18 minutes of one another, obviously a t of planning went into this attack. let's go nbc's jim miklaszewski at the pentagon. mik, what can you tell us? >> reporter: to add to what andrea mitchell just said, senior military officials here at the pentagon are saying they are getting information that the american airlines flight1, after it left boston apparently, was hijacked and was diverted, apparently -- the early information was, was being diverted to jfk for some reasonn and then obviously nobody knows
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exactly who was at the controls of the plane. but it broke off its route to los angeles and was headed toward jfk. that was the itial information that officials had received. when obviously it did not go to jfk but veered off and headed toward the world trade center. again, no indication as to who may be responsible or who was at the controls of that plane when it rammed into the world trade center. >> mik, thank you. we'll obviously be talking with you throughout the morning. right now we want to talk with larry johnson, a terrorism expert and the former deputy director of the state department office on counterterrorism. mr. johnson, can you please put this into some kind of perspective for us and give us your insight on what might have happened here? >> first we need to be cautious before jumping to conclusions that it's necessarily terrorism.
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i would be inclined, based on the preliminary reports that we've seen, that that is the case. but there's always the possibility that you may find after the fact that this was some suicide packet that, for some reason, had nothing to do with politics. that said, this is a first. back in 1992 -- excuse me, '93, a plane was hijacked from germany and ended up landing in new york. one of the concerns we had at that time was the possibility of that plane, under the control of a hijacker, flying it in to one of the buildings. so, you know, my concern now is that there is always a -- you know, we ignore terrorism. we talk a lot about it, but we ignore taking very practical steps on securi fronts until something like this happens. and then, the pendulum swings out to the extreme. people talk about putting surface to air missiles on top of buildings to prevent this
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type of thing. this is a very rare event. it's unlikely to be repeated, but -- and i think president bush put his finger on it. we have to find who did this, in any country, any nation in the world that is in any way involved or responsible, if it turns out to be terrorism, will require a response from the united states. the united states has got to be willing to pay that price. >> mr. johnson obviously we were completely stunned when about 25 minutes after the first explosion, after the first plane crashed into one of the twin towers, another very large plane did the same thing. we've been talking with our correspondents all morning about, if another incident could happen on the heels of these two, what kind of measures are in place to prepare for something else that could conceivably happen? >> one of the steps is already being taken. i was at national airport getting ready to fly to laguardia when this occurred.
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they have shut down air traffic going in and out of the ty. you're talking about an enormous disruption economically for the nation with the air traffic not going in. and people are going to err on the side of caution. hubs across the nation, chicago, los angeles, and extra measures will be taken. one possibility is we just start putting up air cover and require that planes stay within a particular area and do not approach any closer. and, you know, if they approach, you would go to the extremes of having usair force intcept. >> larry, i wanted to ask you. all morning, correspondents have also been saying, particularly bob kerr and jim miklaszewski and andrea mitchell that there was no warning attached to this event. >> right. >> generally speaking, do we get some kind of -- or do u.s. officials, government agencies get some kind of from a particular group, or is this
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pretty -- i mean, fairly typical in terms of an event happening without any foreshadowing? >> no, katie, this unfortunately is typical. it's only in the movies you get the advanced warnings. if you look at every major terrorist incident against the united states, whether you're talking pan am 103, the world trade center, the "u.s.s. cole" bombing, the bombing in saudi arabia, rarely do you get any advance warning. >> sorry to interrupt you. we have new information from the pentagon.at >> reporter: katie, i don't want to alarm anybody right now, apparently it felt just a few moments ago like there was an explosion of some kind here at the pentagon. we're on the e-ring of the pentagon. we have a window that faces out toward the potomac, toward the kennedy cent. we haven't been able to see or hear anything after the initial blast. i just stepped out in the hallway. security guards were herding
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people out of the building a saw just a moment ago as i looked outside, a number of construction workers who have been working here have taken flight. they are running as far away from the building as they can right now. i hear no sirens going off in the building, i see no smoke. but the building shook for just a couple of conds, the windows rattled and security personnel are doing what they can momentarily to clear this part of the building. again, i have no idea whether it was part of the construction work, whether it was an accident or what is going on. we're going to try to find those details and get them to you as soon as possible. but, interestingly enough, one intelligence official here in the building said when he saw what appeared to be the coordinated attack on the world trade center, his advice was to stay away from the outside of the building today, just in case. now, again, nobody has any indications of exactly what
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happened. but it appears that there has been some kind of -- it felt like a small blast of some kind. again, the windows shook. the building shook. the windows rattled, and people -- i'm looking out the window now and the construction workers are still keeping a good -- oh, i'm sorry. the construction workers are still keeping a distance. that's all i can see. and i see no other extracurricular security activity right outside. but to get more information, i'm going to have to break away and walk down the hallway. >> okay. >> reporter: and see what exactly happened here a few moments ago. >> let us know what you can find out. please be careful and let us know what's going on there. we'll go back to david gregory, who is in longboat key, florida, where president bush was earlier this morning for an event on literacy. he was going to a school to talk with kids. david, what can you tell us? >> a little bit more about how
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all of this unfolded and what the president is going to do next. the president declared this an apparent terrorist act. he offered a prayer for the families, promised to hunt down, in his words, the people responsible for this. he will now travel back to washington. aides are telling us now he will immediately convene a national security meeting to see what steps are taken next. >> david, i'm sorry to interrupt you. we're looking at live pictures of the pentagon, where there is billowing smoke. jim miklaszewski just reported that he heard an explosion. right now, we're looking at an aerial view of the pentagon. mik, can you talk to us? >> reporter: officially, nobody knows exactly what happened. i think the picture is pretty clear. according to one u.s. army officer, who went running past me at a full trot, he said that it appears that a bomb was detonated at the heliport. that is the helicopter landing
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area right next to the pentagon just adjacent to the e-ring. the offices nearest the heliport area are u.s. army reserve officers and therv army reserve offices are located there. but as you can see, it appears to be a pretty significant blast. to give you some perspective, we are almost on the opposite side of the building, the world's largest office building. as i reported to you, we could feel the building shake and the windows rattle. as i was in the hallway a few moments ago, i could smell an acrid kind of smoke, almost what you would smell when a fluorescent light goes bad. that kind of ballas smell. authorities are clearing the building. i don't know if you can hear the sirens outside right now. but it appears that in what -- i
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think people here in the building are already describes as a highly sophisticated, coordinated attack. not only against the world trade center, but against the pentagon and u.s. military right here in washington. >> mik, tell me again -- i worked at the pentagon as well and it is a huge building. i mean, it's miles and miles of offices. at what location did this seem to have detonated? >> it's at the heliport, which is -- as you sit in the pentagon, you have the potomac river and washington, d.c. on one side. and the heliport is located almost exactly on the opposite side of the building along one of the highways. easily accessible. even though that they've increased security here significantly at the pentagon within the past couple of years, that area -- >> i want to mention to you, mik, we are hearing, again, unconfirmed reports that this
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was the result of a plane crashing in the area as well. >> reporter: i have no idea, katie. all i know is that people who were in the building who came running from that part of the building thought it was a bomb of some kind. according to chris brown, my colleague, who just came in, it appears that whatever it was, and perhaps it was a plane, katie, if those are the initial reports, crashed into -- or the damage is on the roof of the building at the heliport side of the pentagon, which is just opposite of the potomac river, i just said. >> we're looking at the white house, mik, because we are learning that there have been some evacuations from the white house. i'm assuming that everyone is being evacuated from the ? pentagon? >> reporter: well, nobody has given us the official word yet. but i think
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safe bet. thank goodness that was a helicopter that just flew by. i'm just a little nervous right now when you hear aircraft go past. but they have, in fact, evacuated that portion of the building. usually, they have sirens that go off in the building, alerting you to the fact that it's time to get out. i haven't heard those yet. but just judging by the pictures, it's clear that that part of the building that is not damaged, at least, evacuated. like i said, in the hallway, it was pandemonium. people were rushing from their offices, rushing outside. >> you're in your office at the pentagon right now, mik, reporting to us? >> reporter: i am, but i'm at the opposite side of where this crash occurred. >> why don't you see if you can gather some more information. please, again, be careful, mik. we're going to go to matt, who will be talking with jamie gangel. >> katie, thank you very much. i'm joined by tom brokaw. we'll recap what's been going
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on, on the east coast and in washington, d.c. we wt to go to nbc's national correspondent jamie gangel with more information. jamie? >> matt, u.s. intelligence sources are confirming the reports that one of the planes was a hijacked flight, an american flit from boston to los angeles. they are also now looking into what's going on at the pentagon. they don't have any details, but they have now put government buildings around the city of washington on a heightened state of alert. i think part of that is happening formally, but obviously people are seeing what's going on and some people are leaving buildings as well, simply because of the concern following these latest reports from the pentagon. >> all right. jamie, thank you very much. again, joined by tom brokaw. katie is back with us, too. it's 9:47 eastern time. try to recap what's gone on so
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far this morning. the news is terrible. just before 9:00 -- >> at 8:42 actually. >> 8:42, a plane crashed into the right-hand tower of the world trade center, about three-quarters of the way up. you can see the smoke billowing from that point of the building. 18 or 20 minutes later a second plane, large plane -- we saw it actually on tape,hit the left-hand tower of the world trade center about halfway up. an enormous fireball on several des of the building. people trying to be evacuated. there's the tape of the second plane hitting right there, even as people were trying to get out of the first building. we have confirmed reports now that there was one plane hijacked, american airlines flight 11, from boston to los angeles. that is apparently one of the planes used in this crash. >> matt, there's a report on dubai television that, in fact, the group claiming responsibility, democratic front for the liberation of palestine,
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when the israeli prime minister sharon is scheduled to meet with yasser araf achat. united states vacated that meeting. there hasn't been one specific incident. >> israelis vacated that meeting as well. >> they have, but there's not been one specific incident. it's alsoworthy pointing out that terrorism also -- always has two prongs to it, the physical threat and now the psychological threat. this does seem to be surreal but, in fact, it is real when you have an explosion of undetermined origin at the pentagon, the most conspicuous symbol of american capitalism, twin trade towers in new york, two deliberate attacks on those towers today and we do not know for sure who is responsible. >> the u.s. capitol, by the way, has been evacuated. there have been evacuations taking place at the white house. needless to say, many people in the pentagon have left that building as well. >> here, by the way, in this
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building in midtown, new yor they've asked a lot of people at 30 rockefeller plaza to leave. it's another high rise building. in new york, i came and a lot o were simply unaware of what had happened. as you tune into radio, and then they begin to get it. it's election day here in new york. >> primary day. >> and what we have is something that most americans thought could never occur. >> larry johnson, terrorism expert ijust spoke with moments ago, the former deputy director of the state department office on counterterrorism claims this is a first, that he has never heard or seen anything like it. he talked about back in 1993 a german plane being hijacked, and there were fears had it was flown to new york that it might be crashing into something. >> we have this as a major development. the federal aviation administration has shut down all air traffic nationwide. this country has been immobilized by these terrorist attacks in terms of air travel today. and we don't know where it goes from here.
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we'll just ask that you stay with us so that as we get hard information, we can share that with you. there's going to be a lot of speculation. the president has described this apparently as a terrorist attack. the fbi has confirmed that an american airlines flight boston to los angeles was hijacked. it's believed that that was the first plane that went into the twin trade towers. >> let's go to james, the former director of the fbi here in new york. mr. palstrom, i'm sure we've never seen anything like this do you have any information that might be helpful to us? >> atwell, not particular information on this tragedy. but certainly what an incredible tragedy. you know, all of us in law enforcement and prior law enforcement have talked for years, and the public has seen the hatred in the world. they've seen the bombing of the world trade center. they saw the conspiracy to blow up the tunnels and the united nations and fbi building back in the '90s. they saw the bomb at the "uss
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cole" and bombing of our embassy in africa. we've known for some time now that this hatred exists. and now it looks like that it's culminated in this absolutely horrendous incredible act against the united states. >> jim, i'm sorry, as someone who's investigated some of these crimes in the past, and we think back to 1993 world trade center bombing and what it took in terms of coordination in planning to pull off that one bomb in the world trade center, can you even speculate as to what it might take to coordinate this, what we think s far is a three-pronged attack this morning? >> matt, it obviously took a lot of coordination. there's a lot of groups in the world that have the ability to coordinate these types of attacks. as you know and most people should know, the united states is an open society. we've talked for years about the down side of having our borders basically open. on any given day people fly into our airports undocumented and
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turned into the population. they're not certainly all terrorism -- they're not terrorists. but we live in a free society, and i'm not espousing to change that. it's very, very difficult for the fbi and law enforcement to keep track of this when we live in the society that we live in. >> jim, if you can stand by for just a moment because jim miklaszewski at the pentagon has more information for us. mik? >> reporter: katie, my colleague, chris brown, here at the pentagon encountered some of those who survived, whatevera was, whether it was a bomb or an airplane crashing into the pentagon. one of the survivors who was reportedly injured had various lacerations, was on the second floor of the "d" ring, that is one ring inside the outer ring of the pentagon, when suddenly there was this horrific blast. and he said that the second floor buckled upward, and then the third floor above him actually collapsed downward. the scene on the other side of
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the building as it's being described to us, thereare people being removed on stretchers. security forces are evacuating the building right now. and according to the officials here at the pentagon, they still don't know exactly what it was, but as you reported, katie, eyewitnesses reported that, in fact, it was a blaen thplane th crashed into the pentagon. >> and mik, any idea -- i wasn't sure if you said this -- about the number of people who might have been hurt or worse in this? >> reporter: no idea at all, katie. as you know, having worked here on any given day, this is a small city, 25,000 to 30,000 people may be working here at any one time. that portion of the pentagon, by the way, had just been remodeled and just reopened. if the crash had occurred just a few months ago, that section of the pentagon would have been virtually empty. but at this time of day early morning or midmorning, the
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pentagon is very busy. it's impossible to say how many casualties there may be. but there have been a large number of people sighted being removed on stretchers. and, again, as one survivor said, the floor just buckled up under him, and the roof caved in on him. >> all right. mik, thank you very much. we want to move a couple miles away from you right now to the white house are bob kur is standing by. and bob, we understand that building has now been evacuated? >> reporter: that's true. it is utterly surreal. as soon as word came of the pentagon incident, we were rather forcefully removed from the white house. the scene was one of administrators, cooks, whatever running at fairly high speed all the way out of the building through the top gates. then we huddled for a while in lafayette park across the street. and we've been moved now from there a block or so away.
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the offices along jackson place which are across the street from the white house and adjacent to lafayette park also have been evacuated. and in the most surreal of this morning's scenes here at the white house, a white plane, a very big jet, was flying in unusual pattern near the white house over lafayette park very slowly. it made one circle, and then we have not seen it since. there was a lot of concern about what that plane might be. but, again, it's only speculation. but most people say that since flights have been cleared from u.s. airspace, and it was a totally white plane, looked unusual to all of us, that it was a government plane of some kind. >> we should point out that we're looking at pictures, bob, as you speak of the world trade center because all of the camera crews have bee nevacuated from dee white house as well. when do you expect president bush to arrive there, bob?
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>> reporter: well, katie, he's coming back directly, and you figure it's about a two-hour flight. so you can do the math. the reason i said that it was so surreal was that within just about 20 minutes ago, they were still conducting tours. you had hordes of tourists and others still in the white house on tour lining up outside to get in. there seemed to be absolutely no unusual activity outside the white house until word came of the incident at the pentagon. so it's been quite a dramatic shift here. >> you know, in terms of responsibility, tom, and matt and bob, apparently a senior official from the radical democratic front for the liberation of palestine denied on tuesday the group had any connection to the plane crash. an anonymous caller had told television that it was behind the crash but, quote, i emphasize that the story released on television by an anonymous person is totally incorrect. khaled, a senior official from the dflpp och polit.
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they are not connected with the struggle of this region, he said. >> there are going to be a lot of claims and counterclaims in the course of the next 24 hours or so. this is a task for investigators of extraordinary magnitude to try to determine who did this and how they got away with it. you think about an american airlines flight that was on its way from boston to los angeles that was hijacked in mid air, they're now citing transmission from the plane so they have hard evidence of that, and then brought down here and made to fly into the twin trade centers. did one of the hijackers get control? did they shoot the pilot? it boggles the mind beyond our ability to figure out what was going on. >> you talk abouttransmissions, i was just curious, have you had any evidence of what was said during the transmissions? >> they just said they're citing transmissions to kbenow that th plane had been hijacked.
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that's all they're saying at this point. we also ought to remind everybody, this is an exceptional development. the faa has banned all takeoffs at all airports across america. this country in terms of air travel has been immobilized. a good portion of the nation's capit capitol, the most powerful center in the world, has been immobilized. >> and that's a very haunting description that bob kerr gave of that low-flying aircraft near the white house. one can only wonder if that was something that ultimately ended up in the pentagon. >> we just saw a live picture of what seemed to be a portion of the building falling away from the world trade center. if we can rerack that to about 20 seconds ago, you'll see something dramatic happening. and i don't know whether it's another explosion or a portion of the building falling away. but something major just happened at that building. here we go to the tape. >> we have the tape. >> watch what happens on the left-hand tower.